Today sees the first day-nighter between Australia and England this summer – as ever, it’s going to be thrilling and fascinating. I’m not going to see any of it until I watch the highlights tomorrow, but’ll try and find a pub with a TV tonight. There are some fascinating little selectorial decisions to be made today by both teams.
Firstly Michael Vaughan. I question just how problematic it’d be for England if he were to miss the game. He’s carrying a groin injury at the moment, facing a late fitness test. And despite his 50 the other day, he continues to baffle the world at his inability to play ODI cricket. Immense class, but England need quick runs, not stodgy ones. It’s an almost identical situation to when Michael Atherton was in the side: he just wasn’t made for ODI cricket and, unless Vaughan starts scoring soon, Marcus Trescothick (or Andrew Flintoff?) might well take up the ODI captaincy.
Australia’s selection will be interesting too. Symonds – he of “off his rocker” fame – should return to provide them with much-needed rocket-fire in the middling overs, and his little dobblers. Big question though will be who Lee replaces, if anyone. He’s certainly said to have recovered from his shoulder injury – whether Australia will concede that Kasprowicz was poor in the last game by ousting him remains to be seen. Lee might be the quickest on either side, but he’s not the most economical – then again, nor was Kasper. I’d say he’ll play and bowl first change.
England’s bowling attack is starting to fire. Gough was rested for the Bangladesh game, and I think he’ll replace Jon Lewis, with Tremlett keeping his place. I hope so, anyway, especially after Tremlett’s bold statement yesterday.
Finally I really can’t decide what they’ll do at the toss. I don’t think either team, especially Australia at the moment, are that confident of defending a total. Personally, I want England to bowl first; with Pietersen in such good nick, and batting so deep, they can chase most totals. Problem is, will they want to be batting under lights – bearing in mind it’s up in Durham where, come 7/8 o’clock, it’ll cool down quite quickly and could swing around. The flip-side of that is the ball could get moisture on it, and become slippery for the fielders. See? The decisions a cricket captain has to make…no wonder we love this game so much.
Sticking my neck out: Australia will win if they bowl first.